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New Beginnings – George 2.0

by George on June 7, 2010

My upbringing made it difficult for me to be fully aware that work does not need to be painful.  My instinct is always to try harder, keep going, shrug it off – a ceaseless cycle of entreaties and platitudes – until I succeed in the task at hand, or abject failure becomes self-evident.   It seldom occurred to me that I should question the viability of the task or the nature of the work.  It never occurred to me to choose the work to begin with.

My father inculcated a tireless work ethic into each of his children with a success he could not have dreamed of.  His methods were not mean-spirited – they were a product of his Depression-era childhood where there was only “hustle” – there was no accompanying “flow”.   You were grateful for the job you had, you worked your butt off at it, and you considered yourself lucky for that opportunity.

The effect was clear in intent and obvious in result: we all became pretty dedicated, hard workers.  But, being entirely unfamiliar with the concept of career planning or self-preservation, each of us put our noses to grindstones that others would recognize as hopeless endeavors.  There just was not a whole lot of discussion in our household about choosing a field of endeavor; something chose you – and you just went to work doing whatever that job was.  Over the years we’ve each recognized that whatever the virtues of hard work, living a good life involves much more than simply working hard at what’s in front of you.  You can look from side to side to see what else there is to do.  You can change jobs and yes, you can change your life.

So, when my job as a senior software consultant was eliminated this past January, I accepted it as an opportunity to change the essence of my life.  Work had defined me for the last 30-odd years; I thought perhaps it was time for me to define work.

Now, this concept has a poetic and man-bites-dog appeal to it, but the question is this: can I really define my work?  I think I can.

See, over the course of my life I’ve had the uncanny ability to picture a certain condition, circumstance, or scenario that placed me in a better place in some physical, financial or ethereal way.  Most people call it daydreaming – but for me it is a deliberate thought process.  It was a way to focus my sub-conscious toward a logical, if unstated, goal.

For example, when I felt locked into company-specific knowledge, I began to dream about having industry-specific skills that would allow me to migrate to another company.  When I felt locked into living in New Jersey because of my job, I contemplated working in a job that would allow me to live anywhere.  When long hours traveling and a prolonged exposure to a uniquely disturbing mania came to disrupt the ebb and flow of life, I began to picture working at home and simply having money appear.  All of these scenarios or outcomes have thus been realized as you read this.

So, notwithstanding any other offers of employment – or perhaps in spite of one – I’m endeavoring to do what everyone has told me I should be doing for some time now – write.

Yes, although I apparently suck at many other things – like fixing a toilet, installing shelving, dancing, painting, and (presumably) fellatio – I’ve always been able to write in a way that has touched or entertained others.  Since these occasions have brought me a great sense of fulfillment, why not conceive a career doing it?  It seems logical …

But I approach this filled with equal parts hope and angst.  Writing is a difficult way to make a living, but I’ve been blessed with the time and support needed to make a go of it.  My wife Melissa has been a constant source of encouragement in this regard.  Without her love, encouragement – or salary – this simply wouldn’t be possible.  It is to her that I dedicate this first effort – and anything good that follows.  I’ll own the rest.

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